What Does Dungeness Crab Taste Like?

Dungeness crab found in the Pacific Ocean is a gem renowned for its tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat with a hint of the sea. Its subtly sweet flavor with a buttery finish that leaves you craving more.

It’s tender and succulent meat pairs well with various flavors, making it a favorite among seafood lovers and gourmet chefs.

Sounds enticing? In this article, I’ll better understand what Dungeness crab tastes like, what to look for, recipe ideas, and how to make it taste even better.

How Does Dungeness Crab Taste?

Imagine biting into a piece of Dungeness crab. The first thing you notice is its sweet flavor, reminiscent of the freshness of the ocean.

What Does Dungeness Crab Taste Like

This sweetness is subtle, not overpowering, and this delicate balance makes Dungeness crab so irresistible. The flavor is rounded off with a slight nuttiness, adding depth and complexity to its overall taste profile.

Dungeness crab meat practically melts in your mouth, thanks to its tender and succulent texture. Despite its tenderness, the meat still retains a certain firmness, providing a satisfying mouthfeel.

Varieties Of Edible Dungeness Crab

While the term “Dungeness crab” generally refers to a specific species, there are a few different varieties that you might come across, each with its own unique taste profile:

  • Pacific Dungeness Crab: This is the most common variety on North America’s West Coast. It’s known for its sweet, delicate flavor and tender, succulent meat.
  • Alaskan Dungeness Crab: Found in the colder waters of Alaska, this variety has a slightly richer flavor due to the colder water temperatures. The meat is still tender and succulent but with a slightly firmer texture.
  • Puget Sound Dungeness Crab: These crabs are found in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. They have a similar flavor to the Pacific Dungeness crab, but some say the meat is a bit sweeter due to the unique conditions of Puget Sound.

What Does Dungeness Crab Compare With?

Does Dungeness Crab Taste Fishy?

Dungeness crab doesn’t have a strong or overpowering fishy taste.

However, if your Dungeness crab does have a strong, unpleasant fishy taste, it could be a sign that the crab is not fresh. Always ensure you’re buying from a reputable source and that the crab is properly stored and cooked to avoid off flavors.

Does Dungeness Crab Smell Fishy?

A fresh Dungeness crab shouldn’t smell overly fishy. Instead, it should remind you of the sea, a clean, salty, and slightly sweet aroma.

Always trust your nose if it smells off. It’s probably best to avoid eating it. Remember, the smell of your food can greatly influence your perception of its taste, so a fresh, pleasant aroma is key when enjoying Dungeness crab.

How To Eat Dungeness Crab

dungeness crab curry

Here are a few popular ways to eat Dungeness crab:

Dungeness Crab Salad

Dungeness crab can be used in a fresh salad for a lighter option. The sweet, tender crab meat pairs well with crisp greens and a tangy vinaigrette. It’s a refreshing and satisfying dish that showcases the crab in a different, yet equally delicious, way.

Steamed Dungeness Crab

One of the most traditional ways to enjoy Dungeness crab is to steam it. This method allows the delicate, sweet flavor of the crab to shine through.

steamed dungeness legs with lemon

It’s often served with melted butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon to enhance the natural flavors of the crab. Some people also enjoy it with a side of tangy cocktail sauce for dipping.

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Dungeness crab cakes combine sweet crab meat with various seasonings and breadcrumbs, then pan-fried to golden perfection. They’re served with a creamy sauce, like remoulade or aioli, for a rich and flavorful meal.

Dungeness Crab Bisque

For a truly indulgent treat, try a Dungeness crab bisque. This creamy soup combines sweet crab meat with rich cream and savory seasonings for a warming and satisfying dish. It’s a gourmet option that truly celebrates the unique flavor of Dungeness crab.

Remember, the best way to eat Dungeness crab is the way you enjoy it the most. So don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own favorite way to savor this delicious seafood.

How To Buy Dungeness Crab

When buying Dungeness crab, there are a few key things to look for to ensure you’re getting the best quality.

Whether you’re at a grocery store, a seafood market, or ordering from a restaurant, here’s what you need to know:


fresh dungeness crab at market

Freshness is crucial when buying any seafood, and Dungeness crab is no exception. Look for crabs that have a fresh, ocean-like smell. Avoid any that smell overly fishy or unpleasant.


A good Dungeness crab should feel heavy for its size. This is a sign that it’s full of meat. If it feels light, it may indicate that the crab doesn’t have much meat or is dehydrated.


Dungeness crabs should have a bright, clean shell with no signs of damage or discoloration.

clean live dungeness crab

The legs should be intact and firmly attached. Avoid any crabs that have missing or damaged legs.

Live or Cooked

Dungeness crabs can be bought live or pre-cooked. Live crabs should be active and responsive. If you’re buying pre-cooked crab, make sure it’s been stored properly and is still within its use-by date.

Other Names

Dungeness crab, also known as Cancer magister, is named after its scientific name. It may also be referred to as market crab or San Francisco crab in some regions.

Remember, whether you’re buying from a grocery store, seafood market, or restaurant, always ensure you’re buying from a reputable source. This will help ensure you’re getting the best quality Dungeness crab.

Dungeness Crab FAQs

What is the best way to cook Dungeness crab?

Steaming is one of the most popular methods for cooking Dungeness crab. This method helps to preserve the delicate, sweet flavor of the crab.

How does Dungeness crab compare to other types of crab?

Dungeness crab is known for its sweet, delicate flavor and tender, succulent meat. It’s less dense and heavy than other crab varieties like blue crab or king crab, offering a light and satisfying eating experience.

Dungeness crab can be used in various dishes, from traditional steamed crab to crab salads, crab cakes, and even crab bisque.

When is Dungeness crab season?

Dungeness crab season varies by region, but it typically starts in December and can run through the spring.

Is Dungeness crab a sustainable seafood choice?

Yes, Dungeness crab is considered a sustainable seafood choice. It’s managed under strict regulations to ensure the population remains healthy and abundant. However, checking the latest sustainability ratings from organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council or Seafood Watch is always a good idea.

About Justin Micheal

Hey, I’m Justin and the home cook behind Food Meets Flavor. I have a passion for cooking and making food delicious. So, I started this blog to help others understand what different types of food taste like and how to make everyday meals taste even better.